Uhoh, somehow another two weeks has zipped by without my getting around to updating this blog. Typical spring weather of late with some nice sunny and warm days followed by crazy all-day wind and yo-yo’ing temperatures and off and on clouds. Still no precipitation for quite awhile so there’s little water in most of my usual spots, already a few wildfires around, and only a few wildflowers coming into bloom. A few days after my last post, I headed just south of town to check in on the heron rookery in Bosque Farms to see if they’d started breeding yet. The Snowy Egrets haven’t yet shown up, but there were a number of Cattle Egrets showing off their breeding plumage,
and several Black-crowned Night-Herons looking to get started nesting.
I’d also seen that a few more Burrowing Owls have shown up in “Owlville” in Los Lunas and decided to take a look since I’d only seen a single one on earlier visits this year. That day, I’d see three of the six that others have been reporting and imagine it’s still a little early for them to start seriously nesting. It’s interesting how different individuals behave when people are around, some not seeming to mind us at all while others will go into hiding or fly off when we appear. This is one of the former that didn’t seem to mind my taking his picture from a fairly close distance to the car.
This next one was one of the latter, standing up above a burrow when I first spotted it but slowly dropping out of sight the closer the car got. Certainly reminded me of how I first learned to spot them – just look for the rock that’s looking back at you!
On the few days over the last two weeks when conditions were right for butterflies – warm, sunny, and not too windy, there’s been a few good ones out there. One small area in Embudito Canyon has turned up several Acmon Blue butterflies hitting the few nectar sources around.
As the canyon narrows, there’s a very small water seep just now that recently has a bunch of wasps and several moths working to get a little moisture, but on several recent visits has also brought in one or two interesting butterflies. One day it was a not unexpected Short-tailed Skipper,
along with a Great Purple Hairstreak – the butterfly that got me into butterflies seven years ago and one I don’t think I saw at all last year.
About a week later, this area turned up the first Marine Blue for the season,
and in exactly the same spot as the Short-tailed Skipper and Great Purple Hairstreak, this time another rarely seen species here, Mormon Metalmark.
A bit further down the wash on that first visit, I also happened to spot a tiny flying thing that I got a better look at as it landed, a Dotted Roadside-Skipper.
That was pretty special for me to see, as it brings my total list of species seen there at the base of Embudito Canyon to 63 species; my webpage with the list is at http://sandianet.com/embudito/index.htm . I was looking closely in that area since spotting #62, the Yucca Giant-Skipper, there about this time last year. We’d first seen the Yucca Giant-Skipper a few years ago in Las Huertas Canyon, and Rebecca and I headed there about a week ago and once again succeeded in seeing two individuals of that species.
Surprised a Bushtit hanging out in Embudito on one of my visits.
Porcupines are still out and about; this one from last week’s Audubon Thursday Birder trip to Tingley Ponds.
Returning there a few days later, I’d see the Osprey still hanging around,
along with a group of both Cinnamon Teal and Blue-winged Teal.
I’d started that morning dropping in on Valle de Oro NWR where everybody else had been seeing White-faced Ibis and a few other good shorebirds; no luck on those for me, but lots of Western Meadowlarks singing about the fabulous morning.
Our Osprey out at Tramway Wetlands are having quite a few issues this year. I’d posted a picture at the end of my last update of the nest they were constructing at the site where they’d lost one in a windstorm last year. So far this year, their attempts have also failed with the nest blown away by the wind at least twice now, and then a small brush fire this week quite close to the powerline structure they’ve been using. My latest visit finds them trying once again but in the next tower to the east, which hopefully will work out a little better for them. Definitely interesting watching the female for a few minuts guarding the early construction; when she started calling out I knew to keep an eye out for the male returning. Expected him to have a branch or two to add to the nest, but this time he was bringing what appears to be a fairly large orange koi he must have snagged from someone’s pond.
Quick update on the Great Horned Owls – all but one (Piedras Marcadas is always later than the others) now seem to have little ones starting to appear. This year almost all of the nests I’m watching are way high in the trees and difficult to photograph well, but it’s still fun getting to watch all this. There is at least one little one at Pueblito in Corrales and one at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (eBird tells me one may not have survived the brush fire that came close enough last week to scorch the tree holding the nest); and certainly two at Rio Grande Nature Center.
Definitely two at Pueblo Montano,
I first saw a little one at Albuquerque Academy on April 4; two days later I got a picture showing two of them,
and rumor has it there might actually be three. About a week later, I got a better picture of the older one
but am going to have to keep looking to figure out how many little birds are growing up in that little patch. Mom is certainly keeping a close eye out from right next to the nest.